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City confirms cancellation of GAIN, Coolidge Days

COOLIDGE — Two highly anticipated fall events organized by the city of Coolidge have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The city will not host Calvin Coolidge Days or the Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods event this year.

The announcement was officially made at Monday evening’s city council meeting during an update given to council by City Clerk Norma Ortiz.

Ortiz said that all department heads were notified of the cancellations through a memo sent out by City Manager Rick Miller, who was absent, and that the decision was made to avoid violation of social distancing practices and the state’s executive orders.

Held the first weekend of October, Coolidge Days are designed to celebrate everything that makes Coolidge unique and pays tribute to the president the community was named after — Calvin Coolidge.

This year will mark the first year the city will not host the event following 35 consecutive years.

GAIN night, organized by the Coolidge Police Department, seeks to bring members of the police force together with the community to strengthen community relations. The event has been held every year for the past decade.

Ortiz said the city may hold the Halloween Carnival at the end of October, but that the possibility is still being examined.

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Coolidge schools cleaned and ready for students

COOLIDGE — After all schools were scrubbed, polished and readied, students returned to attending classes in person for the first time this school year on Monday.

Superintendent Charie Wallace outlined the Coolidge Unified School District plan to school board members Wednesday night during a Zoom meeting. Students from kindergartners to high school will attend school onsite in a hybrid format under the structure established by the Arizona Department of Education, in which half of the enrollment is there physically for two days while the other half stays online. The halves trade sides for another two days, while schools are closed on Fridays.

“Our mitigation protocols are all going to be in place. Wash stations were installed today (Wednesday). Each classroom is equipped with a big trash container of cleaning supplies,” Wallace told the board as part of her superintendent’s update. “We delivered student masks to all the sites today in case students don’t have masks because they’re required to wear them on campus. We got the signs up on which way to go, how to wash your hands, put on the mask, six feet apart, those kinds of things.”

In addition, school buses are outfitted with plexiglass safety guards, Wallace said.

The district’s five schools will send an information-detailed “letter of welcome” to the family of each student, or one letter per child for families with multiple students, and the families are requested to sign each letter.

“It’s to acknowledge that they’re sending their child into an environment that could spread COVID,” Wallace said.

The district will take safety measures as well, Wallace added.

“First-hour teachers are going to do symptom checks. We’re also asking parents to do those at home,” she said. “We will not be taking temperatures because all the research and all the advice we’ve got (say) it’s not really effective, but they’ll do a symptoms checklist.”

The district is anticipating all students can be together in five weeks if Pinal County’s benchmarks show a positive trend.

“If the metrics continue good we will begin full-time in person after fall break. It would be Oct. 19,” Wallace said.

The district’s one-week fall recess is scheduled for Oct. 12-16. Because the board’s regularly scheduled October meeting is slated for Oct. 14, Wallace suggested moving that meeting to Oct. 21, which does not require board action.

When football season starts, Oct. 2 at home against Florence, admission will be limited to a selected group of students who have bought tickets, Wallace said. That group includes football players, band members and cheerleaders, all of whom can pre-purchase up to four tickets at $5 each and disperse them to family or others they want.

The high school parking lot will be closed to the public, and only those with a game ticket will be allowed to park.

If all game tickets are used, Wallace said the district estimates the stadium will hold 610 fans, and social distancing will be applied.

Fans and parents of visiting teams will not be allowed to attend games at CHS. Likewise, those from Coolidge probably will not be able to attend away games at Eloy (Oct. 9), ALA-Gilbert North (Nov. 6) or Gilbert Christian (Nov. 13), but Wallace said the district is double-checking this detail.

The Bears will play other home games against ALA-Ironwood on Oct. 16, Mesa Eastmark on Oct. 23 and Safford on Oct. 30.

As for other sports, the swimming team opens its season Wednesday with a meet in Casa Grande.

The cross country team also begins action Wednesday against Florence and Benjamin Franklin.

Volleyball season opens Sept. 29 with the Bears playing at San Tan Foothills. In volleyball matches, the Arizona Interscholastic Association has closed the gyms to all fans.

The Coolidge school district plans to livestream all football and volleyball games, Wallace said.

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Council approves update to pool IGA between city, CUSD

COOLIDGE — To account for the construction of a new aquatic center that will be built at the current location of the city pool, City Council approved an amended version of the Intergovernmental Agreement between the city of Coolidge and Coolidge Unified School District.

The latest version of the agreement, which was formed in 1986 with the construction of the city pool on CUSD land and extended in 2016, includes a number of changes to the original IGA that accounts for the expansion of the pool and the associated costs of running the larger facility once construction is complete.

The new aquatic center will be financed through a $5 million general obligation bond, which voters approved last year. When the development of the center was initially proposed in April 2019, city officials said they intended to increase the area the current pool encompasses in the construction to include additional amenities for local residents to enjoy.

The expansion will involve extending the perimeter of the facility to an unpaved section of the Coolidge High School property adjoining the location of the current pool.

The updated IGA, Community Services Director Ricky LaPaglia said at Monday’s City Council meeting, accounts for that expansion and also addresses the use of CHS’s adjacent parking lot during the facility’s hours of operation.

In addition, the amended agreement imposes an $18,000 cap on utilities the school district will cover. Utility expenses exceeding the $18,000 mark will be shared by the district and the city.

Under the original IGA, CUSD paid the full cost associated with the pool’s utilities and chemical supplies while the city spearheaded the operation of the pool and covered repair expenses under $5,000.

But the new aquatic center will include two bodies of water as opposed to one, LaPaglia said, with the school district only intending to use one of those — the competition pool — throughout the academic year, leading the district to impose a cap on the amount of utilities it is responsible for.

However, the amended IGA stipulates that the district’s $18,000 limit on utilities will be re-examined and readjusted every three years to account for inflation.

LaPaglia noted that CUSD also requested to be exempt from costs associated with any recreational uses of the pool, which the city agreed to.

The city’s community services and finance departments anticipate that, upon completion of the aquatic center’s construction, operation costs for the city pool will increase by 26%.

Currently, the city allocates just over $85,500 toward the pool. The anticipated budget for the new facility will likely be in the range of $107,700.

Shortly after approving the IGA in a 5-0 vote, with councilmen Jimmy Walker and Steve Hudson absent, council also approved the final contract needed to move forward with the construction of the new aquatic center and roadway improvements along Northern Avenue.

Also approved in a 5-0 vote, the guaranteed maximum price contract between the city and Hayden Building Corporation amounts to a total of $4,257,339.

Council previously approved a pre-construction contract and a design contract for a combined total of about $742,720.

The final contract allocates $4,335,534 for the construction of the aquatic center and $664,466 for roadway reconstruction along Northern Avenue from Arizona Boulevard to 9th street.

But with uncertainty still abounding regarding the state of the irrigation pipes beneath the roadway, there are no guarantees the city will be able to repave the avenue all the way to 9th street this time around.

Improvements along Northern have been contracted with Sunrise Engineering. According to LaPaglia, the contractor’s intention is to fix the irrigation pipes and move them further from the roadway. However, the feasibility of that plan will only be determined after Sunset Engineering examines the pipes.

“They can’t guarantee that they are going to be able to fix that until they get down there to look at it,” he said. “If it’s an easy fix, and they can do it while they are down there, then we’ll make the (adjustments). If not, there (may) be a possibility that the (pipe improvements) will have to happen separately. But we won’t know until we get down there.”